Austin who?

Peanut gallery at the Tackle Box.

Peanut gallery at the Tackle Box.

Nothing but music Today’s Arts DEVO is brought to you by Old No. 7 Brand. I am writing this week’s column from the Tackle Box Bar & Grill. It’s 6 a.m. on Wednesday morning (April 8). Mad Bob Howard is on stage singing Townes Van Zandt’s story of Pancho and his final days in the Mexican desert against a backdrop of Old Glory unfurling across the wall behind the stage as a gallery of severed deer and bison heads listens intently to his balladry from across the room.

I’m scratching out these words on a blue notebook on a Jack Daniel’s bar table because so far it’s the only way I can experience the month-long Guinness World Record attempt for longest multi-artist concert that’s been underway at the south Chico bar since April 1. As most of you probably know, at this time of year, when the Chico News & Review is hosting the Chico Area Music Awards, I am stupid busy doing double duty as CAMMIES producer and arts editor for this paper. And, while I love that my version of “too busy” includes being completely immersed in music every spring, it has been killing me that my CAMMIES duties have kept me from visiting the Tackle Box and taking part in what’s turned into a local phenomenon that has captured Chico’s attention. Despite it kind of being my job to report on such notable local arts events, this morning is my first time bearing witness to the month-long record attempt.

Randy Morton, on stage for the 7 a.m. spot.

With this weekend’s 12 CAMMIES shows fast approaching, I decided to force the issue and get out by signing myself up for a 5 a.m. set this morning. And it’s no exaggeration to say it was one of the most fun times I’ve had playing music as a solo performer. The rules are you get only five minutes between acts and 25 seconds between songs, and while the red lights of the scoreboard clock and its buzzer were nerve-racking at first, as I got into it, the urgency proved energizing. And even though the sun wouldn’t rise until the middle of Howard’s set, the morning crowd was engaged and it was a pleasure to share music with them over coffee and a breakfast buffet.

And it was a happy coincidence that Howard played the hour after mine. It’s been his enthusiastic online musings about the one-of-a-kind extravaganza that have stoked the burning desire for me to experience it for myself. “It is seriously one of the weirdest, most interesting, entertaining spectacles I have ever been a part of,” Howard wrote on his Facebook page. In addition to showing up most mornings to watch, Howard’s also been performing, putting in his “fifth or sixth” set (so far) on Wednesday. If you’ve yet to go, just go. And if you want to play or help out, they need more musicians and volunteers. Visit for details.

And, as crazy as it the local music schedule will be over the next few weeks with the Guinness and CAMMIES marathons taking place, there’s actually even more music happening over that span, way more. Nor Cal Jazz Fest is coming next week (April 17-19); KZFR is hosting a jam-band wet dream at the Chico Women’s Club (Bahapki, Dog Named Blue and GravyBrain, Friday, April 10); the Cal Nut Fest has a roster of amazing acoustic acts at Patrick Ranch on the same day (April 18) as the CAMMIES Finale/Awards Show and its roster of amazing acts at the Chico Women’s Club; plus all the regular hotspots—Sierra Nevada Big Room, Chico Performances/Laxson Auditorium, The Maltese, 1078 Gallery, Lost on Main (Coolio, April 18!), and Senator Theatre—all have multiple shows featuring locals and/or impressive-looking touring bands.

Watch out Austin!